1969 will forever be remembered as the year of the four winners: Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and France all scored 18 points and as there was no rule in place at the time to determine an outright winner the contest was declared a tie.
Despite its surfeit of victors, 1969 was, by our reckoning, one of Eurovision’s more mediocre years. Leaving aside the pre-pop era of 1956 to 1962 which is very sparsely represented in our countdown, only 1980 (see No. 431) has fewer entries in our Top 500. Just five songs from 1969 made it into our chart, the first of which is Judy, Min Vän.
Judy, Min Vän (Judy, My Friend) started out as Dear Mrs. Jones, an English song written by Roger Wallis. Translated into Swedish by Britt Lindeborg and sung by Tommy Körberg, it was entered into Melodifestivalen, the annual “Melody Festival” that determines who Sweden sends to Eurovision.
At 1969’s Melodifestivalen Körberg won by a whisker, finishing just ahead of another Swedish actor-cum-singer, Jan Malmsjö. Malmsjö’s entry, Hej Clown, had been written by Benny Andersson, then keyboardist with the Hep Stars, and it was while Andersson was hanging around backstage at Stockholm’s Cirkus Arena that he first met his future wife, Anni-Frid Lyngstad. She was also competing in Melodifestivalen that year and finished fourth with Härlig Är Vår Jord (Our Earth Is Wonderful).
That year’s Melodifestivalen was also notable for the participation of Ola Håkansson. He ended up in last place but, as one third of Norell-Oson-Bard (a Swedish Stock-Aitken-Waterman), he would go on to work with another Abba luminary, Agnetha Fältskog, and write Sweden’s 1989 Eurovision entry for Tommy Nilsson (see No. 453).
Although Körberg had triumphed over two future Abba stars he could only finish 9th in 1969’s Eurovision. Afterwards he released several albums with the jazz-rock band Solar Plexus in the 1970s, and in the 1980s won acclaim for his portrayal of The Russian in the Benny Andersson-Björn Ulvaeus-Tim Rice musical Chess. In 1988 he returned to Eurovision with Stad I Ljus (Town In Light), a song that was originally written for the man he narrowly beat in 1969’s Melodifestivalen, Jan Malmsjö.